Paul Cook

10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, April 28, 2010

By JIM MILLER
Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Boards of local government appointees, such as Riverside County’s transportation agency, someday could eject members facing criminal charges under a bill approved Wednesday by a state Assembly committee.

The measure is designed to ensure that regional agencies comprised of local government officials won’t be tainted by a member’s trouble with the law and lose out on federal money.

“If you don’t get that money, you could find yourself bankrupt or losing projects. The consequences are very high,” said Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, the measure’s author.

Unspoken by Cook and others during the hearing — but mentioned prominently in an Assembly analysis of the bill — are the charges against four members of the San Jacinto City Council, some of whom sat on other government boards, such as the 20-member Riverside Transit Agency and the 35-member Riverside County Transportation Commission.

In addition, the ongoing corruption investigation in San Bernardino County could snare appointed members of boards there, such as the 31-member San Bernardino Associated Governments.

‘VERY SENSITIVE ISSUE’

Cook, whose district includes San Jacinto and part of San Bernardino County, declined to comment on links between his bill and ongoing criminal cases. The measure passed the Assembly Local Government Committee unanimously.

“It’s a very, very sensitive issue. I’m not trying to direct it at any city at all. It’s a policy… that a lot of people have asked for,” Cook said.

Last November’s indictment names San Jacinto Mayor Dale Stubblefield, Vice Mayor John Mansperger and council members James Potts and Jim Ayres, along with several other people.

The vast majority of the charges relate to campaign-finance rules. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty. A trial has been set for Feb. 21, 2011.

Potts was San Jacinto’s appointee to the Riverside County Transportation Commission. Ayres represented the city on the Riverside Transit Agency.

Both men have since stepped down from the boards but remain in office.

S.B. COUNTY CASE

In San Bernardino County, prosecutors allege that the votes for San Bernardino County supervisors’ $102 million lawsuit settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners in November 2006 were obtained through bribery, conspiracy and extortion.

The February charges include several unnamed co-conspirators. Those unnamed co-conspirators include a current Board of Supervisors member and the chief of staff to another current member.

Based on details in the criminal complaint, public records and statements, San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane appears to be one of those John Does.

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